I love living in Muskegon County, which like any part of our great country has some challenges. One of the reasons I choose to live here is because I believe that I have the gifts and skills to make a positive difference in our community.
I am especially interested in issues of poverty, health, homelessness, and literacy that affect our region. Because of my personal story, these issues, which are directly influenced by adult literacy, are very important to me.
My earliest memories involve reading, I’ve been reading since pre-kindergarten, and I must admit my love of books has had quite the impact on my family. Books are essentially the centerpiece of our home. If you want to define me with one word, that word would be books.
My parents were the ones who nurtured my love of reading, especially my dad, who taught me how to read at an early age, even though he had only an eighth-grade education, and found it difficult to read. He wasn’t going to allow one of the things that had hindered him keep me from achieving all I wanted to accomplish; as a result, new worlds and ways of thinking were opened to me.
It was only after I became an adult that I began to realize the challenges my father faced due to his illiteracy. Because he was unable to read and write well, even though he was a very intelligent individual, his options were narrowed. He struggle financially, had difficulty finding work, and when he did, opportunities for advancement were limited. As children, my siblings and I went without, and sometimes it angered me, because I didn’t completely understand the challenges my father faced.
However, in spite of these barriers, he managed to pay his taxes, maintain a home and raise his family. My mother’s support was essential to this as well. I grew up watching her finish high school, go on to complete college, and when I was an adult, land a job in corporate America.
Yet illiteracy loomed large in my father’s life. Once, as he considered facing his challenges and returning to school, a close family member exclaimed, “Why would you want to do that, you’re too dumb!” Those words of discouragement ended any hope my father had maintained.
These difficulties took a toll on him physically and emotionally, and when my father died, at a young age, many of his dreams remained unfulfilled. I believe the barrier of illiteracy was a primary reason.
I don’t want to see other adults follow this same journey of defeat, the way my father did. That’s why I believe we need individuals in Muskegon County to take up the challenge, use their skill in reading, and help those in our community who are facing this same struggle.
According to Read Muskegon, the adult illiteracy rate for Muskegon County is 18%, that means that nearly 31,000 adults in Muskegon County are functionally illiterate.
Read Muskegon is working hard to offer a solution to this problem. Would you consider taking time to be a volunteer with this dynamic, growing organization? For more information, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at 231-766-5040.
In addition, take the opportunity to look at this wonderful video sharing one woman’s amazing journey: